Poetic Justice: A Look at King and Anthony Every society determines what laws are necessary to preserve the natural, moral, and ethical rights of its constituents. Laws are social structures put in place to maintain order and balance. Often, however, there has been a discrepancy between the Justice served and the Justice deserved as the law has been manipulated by a powerful group to exploit a weaker group. For example, during the mid 19th Century there was a steady increase in efforts for women’s rights, most notably the Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848.
Later in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution emended the status of all people born or naturalized in the U. S. As citizens and promised the protection of the all associated rights. Despite these signs of progress, women were still legally being denied the right to vote and equal protection under the law as men. Fighting for Justice, Susan B. Anthony, a feminist and civil rights leader, broke the law and voted in the 1872 Presidential Election and delineated her reasons for doing so in her speech, ‘Is It a Crime for a U.
S. Citizen to Vote’, in 1873. Similarly in 1963, Martin Luther King Jar. , a social rights activist and Civil Rights leader, deed a peaceful public protest against racism and segregation in Birmingham, not in accordance with the law. Dry. King advocated his method of nonviolent resistance to unjust laws in response to criticism from clergymen in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Although Dry. King and Susan B. Anthony both practice Civil Disobedience to fight structural injustice, they do so differently with Dry.
King using emotional appeal and Anthony critically analyzing laws and their intentions. Dry. King asserts that a Just law is one that is moral in essence and applies to all citizens in the same manner. Thus, Dry. King aligns Justice and equality with consistency. As long as everyone confines to the same rules and is held to the same standards no injustice is done, given that the law doesn’t directly infringe on anyone’s natural rights. Unjust laws, on the other hand, degrade human personality.
By extension, King argues, ” All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregated a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority’ (King p. 22). In short, King labels any formal attempt to manipulate a demographic emotionally, financially, or otherwise as not only unjust but also downright sinful. In addition to consistency, King proposes that a moral code supersedes the content of any law. Thus, it is not only Justified to act in accordance with this moral code, but one’s obligation to do so.
In response to the clergyman’s criticism, Dry. King compares himself to religious figures such as Paul and Martin Auber to further stress the significance of this moral code to Justify and necessitate his involvement in fighting segregation in Birmingham while also relating to the clergymen themselves. Martin Luther King Jar. ‘s method of Civil Disobedience is an effective combination of public demonstration and emotional appeal to express the people’s frustration with the system and desire for change.
King, however, didn’t advocate citizens transcending the law, but rather, Dry. King believed that in order to remedy injustice in society, people must openly break the unjust law and accept Poetic Justice: A Look at King and Anthony By millenarian interesting yet extreme example, King relates civil disobedience to the Holocaust: “It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitter’s Germany. But I am sure that, if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal.
If I lived in a communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws”(King p. 23). King cites such an example to bring out the visceral reaction of the audience, given the Holocaust’s widespread negative publicity and condemnation. Thus, King manipulates the reader’s emotions to bring them on board with the idea of civil disobedience. No one would dare question the rectitude of aiding a helpless Jew.
King attempts direct the same negative connotation of the Holocaust to segregation in the U. S. To fight injustice in Birmingham. According to Susan B. Anthony, for a law to be Just, it must be created by, interpreted by, and representative of all people in society. By extension, all members of society should be given the same basic rights without any exceptions: “The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the constitutions of the several states and the organic laws of the territories, all alike propose to protect the people in the exercise of their God-given rights.
Not one of them pretends to bestow rights” (Anthony p. 83). Anthony reasserts her status as an American citizen and demands the ability to exercise the according rights, including the “natural”, “God- given” right to vote. She reasons that a group of people are made civil by the act of protecting each other’s natural rights with laws. By denying women the right to vote, she claims that society is regressing. Thus, Anthony contrives a logical argument for women having the right to vote, the preservation of civilization and the progress of he human race.
Susan B. Anthony use of civil disobedience is bold and aggressive as she chooses to break the unjust law in the confines of the very institution, the court, that is harbinger of her oppression. Anthony shows no need of outside approval to exercise the rights she deserves even stating that creation law itself compels her to break it: miss, but laws made by men, under a government of men, interpreted by men and for the benefit of men.
The only chance women have for Justice in this country is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do” (Anthony p. 2). Anthony is so strong in her ways that she turns the tables, giving the court an ultimatum rather than the other way around. In addition to her bold statements, Anthony systematically analyzes and supports the claim that she has the constitutional right to vote: ” Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not.
Being persons, then, women are citizens, and no state has a right to make any new law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities” (Anthony p. 85). Starting from the small, undeniable lain that women are people, Anthony extrapolates a small fact that is usually taken for granted to a much larger statement capable of challenging the structural injustice responsible for the gender and class formations of the time.
If successful, Anthony argument changes the entire role of women in society opening all kinds of windows of opportunity as the internationality, combination of gender, class, and race to form reach socio-economic standings they never dreamed of. As a result, the gender formation of women would cease to be aligned with domestic responsibilities and placed with a broader scope of intellectual, physical, etc. Achievements. Thus, Anthony craftily uses the law to fight the law, which inhibits her freedom. The U. S. Population is growing constantly. Everyday our world is incorporating new ideas, new people, new technology, etc. Into our ever-evolving society. Gone are the days of the melting pot and molding all cultures and ideologies, a system of beliefs characteristic of a demographic, into one American Dream. Now is the time for the salad bowl and cultural coexistence. In order to maintain Justice, the laws must change to fairly and equally represent the new eclectic population in the same way the Susan B. Anthony argued in her speech.
Therefore, the revision to the Voting Right’s Act, which essentially gave nine states the freedom to change their election laws, is logical. Justice should be defined relative to the ideals of that time period. Today’s population follows its own hegemonic (dominant ideology) moral code, which varies significantly from the one Dry. King, followed in the late 20th century. As a result, today’s society requires a new set of laws to reflect the concurrent hegemonies of society and the awe must be amended when it fails to preserve Justice.